Lawmakers Consider Bill That Would Allow Armed Teachers On Campus

February 28, 2014

(Photo by Steve Shadley-KJZZ)
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne testified about his school safety bill before the House Appropriations Committee.

A bill that would allow teachers to have access to guns in school is advancing in the Arizona legislature. Supporters said the measure is needed to prevent school shootings, but opponents fear the guns could fall into the wrong hands.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne introduced the proposal that is sponsored by a Republican lawmaker. Horne said the bill is a defense measure, not a deterrent.

“I don’t know how you protect against a maniac who comes into a school determined to kill kids other than by a gun,” Horne said.

He said the program is voluntary, and schools that choose to participate will select one person on campus who will receive 24 hours of gun training. Horne said the gun will be kept in a locked box, and only the one designated person will have access to it.

"By the time the police can get to a school whether they’re close or far, it’s probably too late. So you need someone at the school to defend people,” Horne said.

He said it is less expensive than hiring school resource officers. Republican State Rep. John Kavanagh supports the measure. He is a former port authority police officer, and he counters critics who are concerned that 24 hours of gun training is not enough.

“I think three days for it is quite adequate. And, don’t forget, the people who volunteer have previous experience with firearms," said Kavanagh. "You have retired cops, you have retired military working in schools…” 

Kavanagh said anyone who is designated to handle a gun at public and charter schools must get training every year. But, not everyone is on board with the school safety bill.

“The last thing we need in schools are guns. No. No guns in these schools,” said Sandra Borchers. 

She is a mother of three from Gilbert. Borchers is not convinced the bill would keep students safe.

“What happens when the lunatic is the teacher in the classroom? That happens. Don’t tell me it doesn’t, because we have teachers who have molested children in our classrooms,” Borchers said.

The bill was passed by a legislative committee this week, and it still needs final approval by the full House. A similar measure failed last year.